Boston, 1926. The ’20s are roaring. Liquor is flowing, bullets are flying, and one man sets out to make his mark on the world.Prohibition has given rise to an endless network of underground distilleries, speakeasies, gangsters, and corrupt cops. Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a prominent Boston police captain, has long since turned his back on his strict and proper upbringing. Now having graduated from a childhood of petty theft to a career in the pay of the city’s most fearsome mobsters, Joe enjoys the spoils, thrills, and notoriety of being an outlaw.
But life on the dark side carries a heavy price. In a time when ruthless men of ambition, armed with cash, illegal booze, and guns, battle for control, no one—neither family nor friend, enemy nor lover—can be trusted. Beyond money and power, even the threat of prison, one fate seems most likely for men like Joe: an early death. But until that day, he and his friends are determined to live life to the hilt.Joe embarks on a dizzying journey up the ladder of organized crime that takes him from the flash of Jazz Age Boston to the sensual shimmer of Tampa’s Latin Quarter to the sizzling streets of Cuba. Live by Night is a riveting epic layered with a diverse cast of loyal friends and callous enemies, tough rumrunners and sultry femmes fatales, Bible-quoting evangelists and cruel Klansmen, all battling for survival and their piece of the American dream. At once a sweeping love story and a compelling saga of revenge, it is a spellbinding tour de force of betrayal and redemption, music and murder, that brings fully to life a bygone era when sin was cause for celebration and vice was a national virtue.
“When a woman once asked Joe how he could come from such a magnificent home and such a good family and still become a gangster, Joe’s answer was two-pronged: (a) he wasn’t a gangster; he was an outlaw; (b) he came from a magnificent house, not a magnificent home.”
“But the rules apply to all of you, no matter what your colour or creed. Never look a guard in the eyes. Never question a guard’s order. Never cross over the dirt track that runs along the wall. Never touch yourselves or one another in an unwholesome manner. Just do your time like good fish, without complaint or ill will, and we’ll find harmonious accord along the pathway to your restitution.”
And, yet, dead was dead. Gone was gone. No edifice, no legacy, no bridge named after you could change that.
You were only guaranteed one life, so you’d better live it.”
“Joe went to the door and Dion opened it and a teenager girl, all breathless energy, stood on the other side. It was the daughter in all the photographs, beautiful and apple-haired, rose gold skin so unblemished it achieved a soft-sun radiance. Joe guessed she was seventeen. Her beauty found his throat, stopped it for a moment, put a catch in the words about to leave his mouth, so all he could manage was a hesitant, “Miss…” yet it wasn’t a beauty that evoked anything carnal in him. It was somehow purer than that. The beauty of Chief Irving Figgis’s daughter wasn’t something you wanted to despoil, it was something you wanted to beatify.”
“Donations paid for this club,” Esteban said smoothly. “Its doors are kept open the same way. When Cubans go out on a Friday night, they want to go to a place where they can dress up, a place that makes them feel like they are back in Havana, a place with style. Pizzazz, yes?” he snapped his fingers. “In here, nobody calls us spics or mud men. We are free to speak our language and sing our songs and recite our poetry.”
“Joe knew what the nod meant-this was why they became outlaws. To live moments the insurance salesman of the world, the truck drivers, and lawyers and bank tellers and carpenters and Realtors would never know. Moments in a world without nets-none to catch you and none to envelop you. Joe looked at Dion and recalled what he’d felt after the first time they’d knocked over that newsstand on Bowdoin Street when they were thirteen years old, We will probably die young.”
“President Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act on the morning of March 23, 1933, legalizing the manufacture and sale of beer and wine with an alcohol content no greater than 3.2 percent. By the end of the year, FDR promised, the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution would be a memory.”